Warning: This blog may upset sensitive beaders.
Have You Ever Tortured Your Beads?
Sadly, my answer is yes. I adore beads, but that doesn't mean they are always safe in my care. I spill beads onto the sofa and sit on them. I vacuum them up. Occasionally, I break them with my pliers. Once, in a scene suitable for a beading horror movie, I dropped a new lampworked focal bead onto a cement floor and it broke. Longtime readers will remember that I nearly burned my first attempt at making a stamped polymer clay pendant and turned the lovely ivory color into a smoky orange. I don't mean to be mean, but it happens.
At least, it happens to me. Does it happen to anyone else? Before I wrote this piece, I was pretty sure I was all alone in my accidental bead torture. I mean, the editors of Stringing, Beadwork, Jewelry Artist, Step by Step Beads and Step by Step Wire Jewelry are frankly too nice to harm any helpless beads, right?
Tales from the Magazine Editors
Even though I was pretty sure I was all alone, I couldn't resist asking the magazine editors whether they had ever tortured beads, wire, metal, or another material in their jewelry-making quest. Here's what they had to say:
Looking for the silver lining. (And looking and looking . . .)
I’m a big fan of matte-finished beads, so I will frequently buy shiny beads and throw them into an etch bath to give them that nice rough-hewn look. I once bought a beautiful mix of seed beads that had some silver-lined beads thrown in. I thought it would be so pretty to etch the outer glass and have the silver lining shine through like water on beach glass. That’s when I learned that etching solution destroys silver linings. Quite literally!
Step by Step Wire Jewelry
Only the strong survive.
I test glues and adhesives from time to time for using pin backs or fixing beadwork to another piece of beadwork. I stitch little swatches, then slather on various glues to test for drying time, flexibility, and clarity once dried. Pieces are taped to index cards with notes on brands, test times, type of beads, etc. Then I try hard to pry off one piece from another. I use all sort of tools to really put the glues and beads to the test. Beads get broken, marred, scratched and, ultimately, only the strong survive!
Step by Step Beads
Saved by Photoshop.
My one and only dalliance with peyote stitch wasn’t pretty. I found the stitch itself easy enough, but when I tried to attach a clasp to the end of my strip of peyote to create a bracelet, I went in and out of some beads so many times, I busted the poor things. Did I mention this project was to be featured in Beadwork’'s Challenge? And that I didn’t have time to remake the piece? Thank you, Photoshop!
She was such a nice, quiet girl, said neighbors.
My favorite form of metal torture is to take a well-annealed sheet of copper out to the sidewalk and place it face down. Then, I proceed to bang the livin’ daylights out of it with an old ball-peen hammer. The texture (and stress relief) I get from this activity is amazing!
It wasn't me: It was my dog. Really.
I must admit that my all-too-curious dog actually committed a little bead torture. After spending almost two hours stitching a circular-peyote donut, I hurriedly ran out for an errand. When I returned, the donut was gone. My suspicions proved right—my dog must have found the donut and taken it outside for playtime because I later discovered it out in the yard, in surprisingly perfect condition. The nylon thread held up amazingly well after spending two days and two nights in the snow—the donut is just as tight as it ever was.
So, fess up–have you ever tortured your beads? Share your stories on the website.
by Sandi Graves
How can you tell which beads will fade, tarnish, or change over time? The author exposed a number of beads to light, chemicals (perfume, detergent, nail polish remover, etc.), and friction and reports her results. Includes tips on what to expect with certain types of beads from opaque seed beads to gemstones. This article was originally published in the Winter 2000 issue of Beadwork.